Katmai National Park (Alaska), which has received money through the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
Credit: Christoph Strässler, flickr.
The U.S. Senate is debating its fiscal year 2016 budget resolution, a process that will include amendments affecting important programs that support forests, parks and conservation priorities.
Some of the proposals could damage bedrock environmental laws and cut already underfunded programs.
Expected amendments in the debate could:
- Sell off wilderness areas, wildlife refuges and national forests, allowing state and local governments to seize some of our most treasured places and hand them over to private interests
- Open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling—in direct opposition to President Obama’s efforts to protect it
- Handcuff the Antiquities Act, preventing Presidents from designating new national monuments like Browns Canyon and Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks
- Undercut the Endangered Species Act by defunding the ability to add imperiled wildlife and plants to the list
- Sell off federally-owned wildlands to states—which would likely then open them to drilling, mining, and logging
- Take money away from the Land and Water Conservation Fund that is meant to protect new wildlands
- Make dangerous cuts to programs to inspect and monitor oil and gas wells on federal lands and enforce clean air and clean water protections
A recent report from The Wilderness Society and other groups points to dozens of programs that have been shortchanged repeatedly, harming public lands conservation, national park maintenance, clean water and access to outdoor recreation. In spite of the clear danger to our parks and other protected public lands, Congress is again proposing additional drastic cuts for conservation programs. It is imperative that Congress remember these chronically underfunded programs and defend our public lands by restoring the funding they depend on--not cutting budgets to the bone.
Conservation programs make up a fraction of the federal budget—scarcely more than 1%. But they generate hundreds of billions of dollars in economic activity each year to communities throughout the U.S. Our parks and public lands strengthen local economies and sustain American jobs that cannot be exported, and we can’t balance the budget on their backs.
As Congress debates the federal budget for the coming fiscal year, we will work to make sure your voices are heard: funding conservation programs is essential!